Emotional testimony in animal abuse trial for dog trainer accused in German Shepherd's death

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Dramatic testimony today from the pet parent of a German shepherd who died under the care of a dog trainer.

Garry Reynolds faces seven felony counts of animal abuse in Contra Costa county. He watched as a Napa woman blamed him for the death of her beloved dog, Gunnar.

Gunnar died right before his fourth birthday. A necropsy listed the cause of death as heat stroke.

Denise Swank, her husband Jeff and son Jeffrey had Gunnar since 2015.

She entered the courtroom crying and took time to compose herself.

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"It was my baby... We'd play ball. Go for walks. We would go to the lake," she testified under questioning from prosecutor Arsh Singh. She said she sent Gunnar to Garry Reynolds of Nor Cal K9 for boarding and training in May of 2018.

Reynolds sent her photos of Gunnar during that training. She said Gunnar looked healthy, but "Didn't look happy. I'm used to seeing him smile," Swank said.

17 days into training on May 20, Swank said Reynolds told her he returned from dinner, Gunnar's stool had lots of blood, and he died.

A tearful Swank said, "I couldn't wrap her head around it. I couldn't figure out how he died."

She suspected Reynolds had kicked Gunnar. On June 14, she says the two met.

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"Garry was yelling at me, 'What happened. Animal control is calling me,'" she said Reynolds screamed.

She said Reynolds blamed her for sending him an unhealthy dog.

In cross examination, defense attorney Matt Fregi tried to establish what he saw as inconsistencies in Swank's testimony.

He visibly became frustrated when prosecutor Singh successfully objected to the line of questioning.

Later, the property owner Warren Vargas took the stand. He described the property as Reynolds and his roommates left it. Antioch police officer Thomas Linderman also took the stand and said he found kennels in filthy condition, and rotten chicken meat surrounded by flies. Cross examination will likely get underway tomorrow.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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